Graduate Student Dissertations, Theses, Capstones, and Portfolios

Date of Award


Document Type


Granting Institution

Lynn University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Degree Program

Global Leadership - with a specialization in Educational Leadership


College of Education

First Advisor

Joan Scialli

Second Advisor

Carole Warshaw

Third Advisor

Karen Casey-Acevedo


Disparity in leadership positions within organizations continue to exist along racial and gender lines even as organizations become more diverse. The numerous studies investigating race, ethnicity, gender, and the attainment of leadership positions within organizations focus primarily on the glass-ceiling effect. Few have empirically addressed the issue of the glass-ceiling effect in law enforcement organizations. Previous research suggested that several factors might affect leadership positions, i.e., human capital assets, demographic characteristics, organizational characteristics, procedural justice, distributive justices, barriers and facilitators to career advancement, institutional values, racism, and organizational culture. The glass ceiling effect, which encompasses a majority of these factors, may be the main hindrance to parity in leadership positions in law enforcement organizations. Theoretical models such as the glass ceiling effect, equity theory and perceived justice were examined and used as a guide to this study.

In this non-experimental, exploratory (comparative) and explanatory (correlational) study, an online research design was used to examine the glass ceiling effect in local and county law enforcement organizations in the State of Florida, from the perspective of human capital assets, demographic characteristics, organizational characteristics, distributive justice, procedural justice, perceived barriers to career advancement, perceived facilitators to career advancement, and the attainment of leadership positions.

Two research questions were answered and six hypotheses, with related sub-hypotheses, were tested. Approximately 2500 sworn law enforcement officers from 75 local and county law enforcement organizations in the State of Florida were invited to participate in the survey. There were 286 valid responses resulting in an 11.64% response rate which were used for data analyses procedures. Data analyses consisted of principle component analysis, internal consistency reliability, descriptive statistics, independent t-tests, Chi-Square analysis, ANOVA, with post hoc comparisons, Pearson r correlation, point-bi-serial correlation, and stepwise multiple regression.

Four scales, which included the Procedural Justice Scale, the Distributive Justice Scale, and Perceived Barriers and Facilitators to Career Advancement Scale, resulted in good estimates of reliability and construct validity was further established for each scale. Evidence of divergent validity was established for the one-item Attainment of Leadership Positions scale, which was created by the researcher. The Perceived Barriers and Perceived Facilitators to Career Advancement scales were modified after principle component analysis.

Though not significant, findings in this study indicated that females perceived more barriers to career advancement, specifically lack of culture fit, in the attainment of leadership positions than other racial groups and African Americans perceived greater barriers than Whites. As hypothesized, African American females, reported the lowest level of attainment of leadership positions. The demographic characteristic of age was the only variable significantly correlated with the attainment of leadership positions in local and county law enforcement organizations in the state of Florida not race or gender. Other findings indicate that the attainment of leadership positions can be explained by human capital assets specifically education, training, experience and tenure. Organizational characters were also correlated with the attainment of leadership positions. Recommendations for future studies include replication using a national sample of law enforcement officers and a larger sample size. Future studies should also incorporate additional variables such as discrimination, career development, and geographic characteristics to increase the explanatory power of the model tested in this study which to explain the attainment of leadership positions.



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